New East Digital Archive

Tactile typography: artist NXCSS makes soft and syrupy visuals that flow and mutate

7 August 2020

It’s easy to get lost in the constant stream of visuals we are surrounded by daily. This visual fatigue can either be a challenge or an inspiration for visual artists — offering a thrilling opportunity to explore new styles and technologies. Russian artist Elena Mosyakina aka NXCSS works with what she describes as “hybrid layers”: graphics made from everything at once including fonts, drawings, and visual effects. The result is ironic and gloomy at the same time, with visual nods both to sci-fi world and heavy metal typography. As a digital native, NXCSS borrows and marries disparate styles and influences, while striving to create her own unique style relevant to pop culture in Russia and globally, too.

NXCSS talked to The Calvert Journal about her digital collages and the inspirations behind them.


Since I was a child, I’d draw anything which caught my eye. I had a lot of books but was always more interested in illustration rather than text — I would study and copy them for hours. However, I never wanted to study drawing in the classical sense. Perhaps, I found it too boring. When we got the internet, I spent all my time looking at collages and graphics, which inspired me to get Photoshop. Initially, I taught myself how to use it and later went on to study Graphic Design at university.

For me personally, art is a hybrid pursuit of different creative spheres, be it painting, graphic design, video, music. Usually, I take one discipline as a basis and then combine elements of something else entirely.

With digital tools, it’s possible to create a work that is always shifting and mutating, something that is not possible in painting. All my works are made of “hybrid layers”, where each layer is its own speculative object or an idea. I still draw to find a certain style or give a work its individual character. I am drawn to bio textures — that is, many of my visuals appear soft and sticky. For me, it is an expression of a future dystopia where everything will be gelatin-like.

I’m usually inspired by things I see or read: from then on I develop ideas into images through a game of association. I try to take in as much visual information as I can and collect references every day. I take as much inspiration from scientific articles as I do from art books and online platforms like Instagram, Soundcloud, Vimeo, and I put all of my ideas in my sketchbook first, then transfer sketches into vector graphics and develop them digitally.

If you are a creative, you must commit yourself to a community of other artists. I spend my time observing the works of others. The creative sphere is constantly in flux, and you have to find a way of consuming it all without losing your individual style.

One of my recent projects was a series of prints commissioned for a clothing line for Russia’s pop music industry. I never thought my work could contribute to the development of my country’s visual culture.